Rainbow warriors take to the Kerry hills

IT was more than tough but those that took part were actually tougher and really up for the incredible task at hand as they took to the hills for this year’s gruelling Kerry Way Ultra Marathon.

The 200km non-stop endurance race saw over 70 athletes depart from Killarney, enduring heavy downpours during nightfall and glorious evening rainbows along the daunting 40-hour event.

The race traverses the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Iveragh Peninsula, stretching along the Wild Atlantic Way, along ancient trails, old roads and coastal cliffs and, not surprisingly, it is Ireland’s longest distance trail.

The marathon was won by Gavin Byrne in a time of 26 hours and 38 minutes. Killarney native Sean Clifford, who lead for much of the way, came second in a remarkably close finish with just a three-minute difference between them.

Rainbow Warrior: David Toomey from Listowel, on Drung Hill, Mountain Stage

Another Killarney native, Joe O’Leary, was joint third with Stephen Davis. Claire Morrissey won the ladies’ title in a time of 37 hours and 55 minutes.

The second race was the Kerry WayLite Marathon over 50km, departing from Sneem and continues along the Kerry Way route, taking in Templenoe, Kenmare and the old Kenmare road, through Killarney National Park returning to Killarney. The race was won by Barry Drennan, in a time of five hours and 51 minutes. The first lady was Sarah Enright in six hours and 21 minutes.

Race director Eileen Daly remarked: “I will never underestimate the determination of the runners, marshals and support crew volunteers and the kindness of the Kerry Way landowners”.

Both marathons reached a phenomenal amount of viewers who engaged with our live tracking on our Facebook page”

She added: All competitors bring their own support crews who meet them at various junctions along the route, a huge welcome, especially during the night watch. 14 countries worldwide were represented this year.

The Kerry Way Ultra Marathon is a non-profit no trace race and it is held with the kind support of South Kerry Development Partnership, Torc Brewing Company, Portwest Outdoors, Dromhall Hotel and Sheahan’s Centra. It has been awarded four points by the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) which is a testament to the severity of the race.

Pictures: Valerie O’Sullivan. Click on individual images for details

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